Thomas Benjamin Pope (1834 - 1891)

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Thomas Benjamin Pope (1834 - 1891)

875.00

Thomas Benjamin Pope (1834 - 1891)
"Hudson River Valley"
Oil on Artist Board
15 x 23 1/2 inches (frame)
4 5/8 x 13 1/8 inches (painting)
Signed: "T.B. Pope" (low left)
1878

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This original composition by Thomas Benjamin Pope is an excellent example of his beloved renderings of the Hudson River Valley which he is remembered for as a talented 19th century American artist. Executed in oil on a thin artist board this night time landscape shows two ships sailing on the water with a hazy yellow moon overhead. Thomas is remembered for being particularly talented in the portrayal of bot water and sky which this work its mostly composed of. Above we see a stunning partial moon shedding its light down to the water below creating lines of reflection on the choppy water. Pope painted heavier lines in the water adding nice texturing and color as he starts with a light yellow, equal with the rocks, then transitions to a reddish orange. The sky at the very top starts off as a soft blue with slight pink tones which look excellent before turning into the more ominous night sky with the yellow moon.

Not only is the work of art absolutely exquisite but so is the original hand painted black matting that sits over it. This black matting is painted in vibrant gold with tall cat tail reeds in the lower left corner and two herons standing in the upper right. A small butterfly softly floats in from the left about to fly right into the painting. The matting is a rare and incredible addition to this work! The condition of the painting is excellent free from any damage or signs of wear, the matting is also excellent with just a couple minor scuffs visible only in the reflecting light. This works rests in what appears to be its original gold wood frame (repainted) and original piece of wavy glass. Signed in the lower left corner "T.B. Pope" and dated below "1878" this was painted during his most prolific time of his life as an artist just 13 year prior to his untimely death in 1891.

If you have any questions regarding this fine work please feel free to email us below or call at (407)-739-3068.

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Artist Biography Follows

"It took Pope quite some time to realize his love for painting. He was born in New York City in 1833. After dropping out of school at age 14, he spent his adolescent years working at a stationer's store. Eventually Pope tried his hand as a businessman, opening several grocery stores in New York City. In 1855 Pope married Emma A. Shaw and then moved upstate to Newburgh on the Hudson River. Around this time Pope began painting in both watercolor and oil, experimenting with different genres such as portraiture, still life and landscape.

Pope also became a prominent community member of Newburgh. He was appointed a fireman in 1859 and opened a wholesale liquor company on Front Street. Pope was an active member of Washington's Continental Guards, Newburgh's military company before the Civil War, and in 1861 enlisted in Company A of the 56th Regiment New York Volunteer Infantry as a second lieutenant, eventually earning the title of first lieutenant. During the Civil War Pope was wounded during the raid by Stewart's Cavalry in the Potomac Valley where he was shot through the arm and was then honorably discharged from the army. On his return to Newburgh in 1862, Pope became active in the art community. He started creating landscape paintings and in 1865 entered the photography business with his brother William H. Pope who had his own studio. He was an energetic member of the Unitarian church and often performed skits and sang in concerts for the community.

 

Pope's most active period of painting was in the 1870s. Pope created numerous landscape paintings in his Newburgh studio, which was open to the public to visit and see his works. Some of his paintings were discussed in local newspapers such as the Newburgh Daily Journal and the Newburgh Weekly Telegraph in which critics praised Pope's paintings. In January of 1874 the son of deceased Hudson River School artist Asher B. Durand went to see Pope's painting Autumn in the Highlands and commented, "no artist need feel ashamed of it."

At this time Pope began to develop his personal style, which focused on the portrayal of the sky and water. Pope seems to have been most interested in how the position of the sun and clouds create different lighting effects during various times of day. In an untitled painting that may depict the city of Newburgh looking south to Cornwall, Pope delicately rendered the setting sun across the clouds. Another untitled painting, thought to show Rosary Heights looking south to the city of Newburgh, demonstrates how Pope skillfully represented weather effects in the sky. The painting includes a moody sky with dark thunderclouds on one side and a clear day on the other.

Pope's landscapes were well received by newspaper critics and the general public, but Pope never earned a steady income as an artist. In 1876, in hopes of increasing revenue, Pope posted an advertisement to sell his original paintings at a 50 percent discount. Pope also took on art students. He gave lessons at his personal studio or traveled to students' houses to teach them one on one. During this time Pope began writing an epistolary column for the Newburgh Daily News, under the pseudonym "Old Boy," a nickname he picked up as a young man during the Civil War. From 1876 onwards, Pope continued publishing the Old Boy letters. In his column he wrote about prominent society members of Newburgh, his memories of the war, and his occasional trips to Europe. The Old Boy column allowed Pope to express himself freely, and presumably his readers enjoyed his humor, honesty, and relatable nature.

In 1891 Pope was killed by an oncoming train while returning to Newburgh from a pupil's house in Fishkill Landing. His death came as a shock to the residents of Newburgh and the surrounding area. Pope's obituaries expressed the love his community had for him, acknowledging his artistic talents and his love for writing. While Pope never became nationally known for his paintings, he was well respected and admired for his work in the city that he called home.

—Chloe DeRocker '16, Department of Art History, SUNY New Paltz"

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